FIELD NOTES

STORIES

In this extraordinary collection, the final installment of a trilogy begun with Desert Notes (1976) and River Notes (1979), National Book Award winner Lopez (for Arctic Dreams, 1986) continues to use nature to teach us about ourselves. Each of the 12 stories in this slim volume creates a mystical world from everyday lives, depicting men and women coming up against situations with which they find themselves surprisingly unequipped to deal. As each character struggles to cope with predicaments that range from failing professions to disintegrating families to death, guidance comes from nature: the song of a wren that leads a man lost in the desert to water (``Introduction: Within Birds' Hearing''); the wildflowers that lead an estranged botanist back to his wife and daughter (``Homecoming''). Often a story revolves around a protagonist learning to let go of convention in order to hear nature. This listening can be approached directly, as when an old friend tries to convince the head of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to recognize that ``our biology is unraveling in a holocaust of extinct species'' and declare the ferruginous hawk an endangered species (``Conversation''). But Lopez does an even better job of illuminating the wisdom of nature when he offers ways of listening that are more like dreaming. For example, a wildlife biologist studying an arctic oasis learns the sorrow of modern animals when he discovers a land where only the souls of those killed properly (when the hunter prays after the kill) can come to search for new bodies (``Pearyland''), and a pack of wolverines teach an Alberta hunter why they don't want to be trapped (``Lessons from the Wolverine''). Through it all, Lopez's prose reads like poetry. His short, simple, and profound tales convey a deep respect for the environment and for the beauty of relationships, knowledge, language, and love. Haunting, seductive, and sensual.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-43453-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1994

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF PLANTS

A neurobiologist reveals the interconnectedness of the natural world through stories of plant migration.

In this slim but well-packed book, Mancuso (Plant Science/Univ. of Florence; The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior, 2018, etc.) presents an illuminating and surprisingly lively study of plant life. He smoothly balances expansive historical exploration with recent scientific research through stories of how various plant species are capable of migrating to locations throughout the world by means of air, water, and even via animals. They often continue to thrive in spite of dire obstacles and environments. One example is the response of plants following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Three decades later, the abandoned “Exclusion Zone” is now entirely covered by an enormous assortment of thriving plants. Mancuso also tracks the journeys of several species that might be regarded as invasive. “Why…do we insist on labeling as ‘invasive’ all those plants that, with great success, have managed to occupy new territories?” asks the author. “On a closer look, the invasive plants of today are the native flora of the future, just as the invasive species of the past are a fundamental part of our ecosystem today.” Throughout, Mancuso persuasively articulates why an understanding and appreciation of how nature is interconnected is vital to the future of our planet. “In nature everything is connected,” he writes. “This simple law that humans don’t seem to understand has a corollary: the extinction of a species, besides being a calamity in and of itself, has unforeseeable consequences for the system to which the species belongs.” The book is not without flaws. The loosely imagined watercolor renderings are vague and fail to effectively complement Mancuso’s richly descriptive prose or satisfy readers’ curiosity. Even without actual photos and maps, it would have been beneficial to readers to include more finely detailed plant and map renderings.

An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63542-991-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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